LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — The body of a mystery man was decomposing in his car in the ritzy Pacific Palisades neighborhood for nearly two weeks before he was found by authorities, an attorney said.
Inside his home, detectives discovered more than 1,200 guns, scopes, 6.5 tons of ammunition, bows and arrows, knives, machetes and $230,000 in cash after he was found on Friday. Residents of the townhome complex where the man lived were evacuated Saturday as investigators removed the weapons and ammunition.
They also located eight of the 14 vehicles stashed around Los Angeles registered to the man, including an SUV designed to drive underwater.
Who he was and how he came to accumulate the arsenal and vehicles are questions authorities are still trying to answer.
Veteran defense attorney Harland Braun represents the man’s fiancee Catherine Nebron and identified him as Jeffrey Alan Lash.
That’s also the name authorities are working with and they’re in touch with a relative to try to officially identify the body, said Craig Harvey, the coroner’s chief of investigations.
Lash and Nebron were together for 17 years and she believed him when he told her that he worked as an undercover operative for unnamed government agencies, Braun said Wednesday.
“The story itself sounds totally crazy but then how do you explain all this?” Braun said. “There’s no evidence he was a drug dealer or he stole these weapons, or had any criminal source of income, no stolen property, all the stuff you’d look for.”
There’s no indication the man was doing anything illegal with the weapons, LAPD Deputy Chief of Detectives Kirk Albanese said. Detectives were reviewing everything, but so far the guns appeared to be registered to him. Many were still in boxes or had price tags.
Braun said Nebron and two friends were in a car at a supermarket early July 4, when Lash felt hot and had trouble breathing.
“He wouldn’t go to a hospital and didn’t want any 911 call,” Braun said. When he died, Nebron parked him in a car down the street from the condo they shared, the lawyer said.
Authorities don’t believe there was any foul play involved, but won’t give a cause until there is more investigation.
Lash told Nebron the government agencies would take care of his body and the items in the home.
“He knew he was dying, he had been dying for a year, so he told her: ‘The body will be taken care of by my people … ‘ ” according to Braun.
Meanwhile, Nebron took off on a road trip to Oregon with a woman, Dawn VadBunker, whose family reporter he missing a couple weeks ago. Police have confirmed VadBunker was found in Oregon and is safe.
When Nebron returned 10 days after leaving for her trip she was shocked to still see Lash’s body in the car.
She contacted Braun, and together they called police, who found the body, guns and other belongings: “There’s no charges. She just didn’t know how to approach the police and so she came to me and we reported it to the police…”
Neighbors thought Lash was dying of cancer because his health appeared to be degenerating over the past year, but Lash told Nebron that he had been exposed to nerve-damaging chemicals on a mission and his condition was worsening.
Braun says his client will be speaking with the LAPD next week.
As for Lash’s cash, Braun says he still has no idea where it came from.
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